Unregistered land is basically an asset that hasn’t been registered with the Land Registry. This doesn’t mean that the land isn’t owned, it just means that the details of the land (which includes who owns the land) is only documented in the Title Deeds and not centrally registered at the Land Registry.
When land is registered it is given a unique reference number and all relevant information relating to the land is stored locally at the Land Registry. This essentially replaces the physical documentation known as the Title Deeds.
The Official Entries provide relevant information relating to the land including information such as who owns the land, any restrictions or covenants, details of the land boundaries, and details of any private rights of way.
Although most land in England and Wales is registered with the Land Registry, where land hasn’t changed ownership for approximately 40 years or more then it is likely this will be unregistered land.
What are the Risks of owning Unregistered Land?
Aside from the inconvenience of owning unregistered land which may come apparent at the point of sale there are some risks that shouldn’t be ignored.
- Proving Ownership – This requires your deeds to be present, complete, and correct. The sale and purchase of land is often a stressful time and delays and hiccups are not uncommon. Issues with land ownership could be one hiccup too many and may deter prospective buyers. You as the landowner can mitigate this by seeking to have your land registered with the Land Registry before taking the steps to sell your land.
- Proving Ownership of a Deceased Landowner - When someone dies and they own land that is unregistered, there can be a difficult time ahead of the Executor of the Will to either locate the Title Deeds or, in cases where the Title Deeds are missing, prove ownership. At a time when family and friends will be grieving this is one task that can be avoided by taking steps to register the land.
If you are an Executor to a will and are aware of the history of the land and landowner and suspect that the land may not be registered, you should raise this with the landowner and look at getting the land registered.
- Property Fraud - Although rare (and possibly only rare due to the relatively low number of unregistered titles), it has been known for people to fraudulently apply for First Registration and note themselves as being the landowner which subsequently enables them to sell the property and profit from the crime.
A few notable cases have made the media, one in particular where a tenant applied for First Registration, marketed the property for sale through a fake estate agent and accepted an offer was thankfully found out due to a chance conversation by a drain surveyor and the neighbours.
Whilst these situations may be rare and somewhat bizarre, they can be avoided and give you peace of mind by taking steps to register your land with the Land Registry.
If you think your land isn’t registered, then speak to us and we can help identify whether it’s registered and if it isn’t then we can get the land registered for you.
Call us at any of our four offices to discuss further and to arrange an appointment.
Call our Wakefield office on 01924 290 029
Call our Garforth office on 0113 246 4423
Call our Ossett office on 01924 586 466
Call our Sherburn in Elmet office on 01977 350 500
About Sam Kelly
Sam joined the conveyancing team here at Thornton Jones in September 2018 having spent many years working at both Blacks in Leeds and GM Wilson solicitors in Barnsley and Wakefield.
Sam qualified as a solicitor in 2009 having undertaken her law degree at Leeds University. Sam has developed a real specialism in dealing with New Build purchases and Help to Buy schemes which can sometimes be a challenge for less experienced conveyancing solicitors.
Thornton Jones Solicitors are a firm of Conveyancing Solicitors in Wakefield. We have a wealth of experience in helping people buy and sell property and are respected Conveyancing Solicitors in Garforth. We are also renowned Family Law Solicitors with offices in Wakefield, Garforth, Ossett and Sherburn in Elmet, we are accessible to all who need us in Yorkshire.
If you are looking for Conveyancing Solicitors in Sherburn In Elmet or Conveyancing Solicitors in Ossett then please call us. We are here to help.
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